June 24, 2004 6:00 AM PDT

Looking for the eureka button

Computer buyers are increasingly on their own when it comes to learning what their devices can do.
The New York Times

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Take the initiative.
Ok - I have an IBM laptop, with the keyboard light. Nobody had to tell me about it - when I saw the icon on the key (its nicely marked) and the fact that its blue color corresponded to the "Fn" (Function) key, it seemed pretty obvious that the key did something, and the color made it clear how to activate it. Similarly, exploring the properties of a meeting reminder would seem to be something you might do when exploring the capabilities of a new device. I think that the problem referenced by this article isn't so much that devices are becoming more cryptic, hard to use, or poorly documented, but that users are becoming habituated to being spoon fed. Well, forget it. If you don't have the competence or initiative to figure out how to repeat a reminder or turn on a keyboard light, you obviously have no need for such a device anyway.
Posted by dreadsword (17 comments )
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Don't even go there, you techno-elitist loser!
I couldn't imagine ever flaming someone on one of these comment strings, but you have to be pretty conceited about your own technical superiority to go around believing the rest of us are stupid for not being able to pick up the complexities of Windows and PC hardware by looking for hidden lights and mysterious icons. No, friend, the great general public (including school children, old people, English as a second language folks, etc.) pay for these doggone expensive things and we have a right to a proper manual explaining how to use their features.

The problem with the "manuals" in the past has been that the booklets that came with the computer were all about scary stuff for installers like formatting drives and swapping boards, rather than how to use the OS and disc drives, which is what the end user needed. If Microsoft will invest in writing manuals for its OS's that are addressed to the end user's needs, we will read it...promise! And those who want to feel superior because they can find things with their eyes closed can throw it away.
Posted by Razzl (1318 comments )
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How about Computer User Groups?
I think its fair to say that any given device is going to have features that maybe difficult to access. Having been involved with computer user groups for many years, I find them excellent sources of information for the experienced user and the "newbie" alike. I would encourge everyone to look for the computer user groups in your area and check them out. Many offer free memberships, while other charge a very reasonable cost to join.

Michael Steinberg
President
New England Palm Users Group
Boston, MA
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.NEPUG.org" target="_newWindow">http://www.NEPUG.org</a>
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